Learning to Read: the World Becomes Knowable!

A seven year-old sweetheart in our life is learning to read.

“It’s so amazing,” she told me. “Everywhere I look I see words to read!”

When we sat together with an open book, her younger sister told me not to bother, “she can read it now herself.”

(I continued reading. I’m more fluid than she is, especially a book like A House is  a House for Me.)

A three year old we know is having trouble at preschool during circle time.

He won’t stop reading the words on the walls–outloud–and disrupts the class in his sudden awareness.

(They know he’s unusual).

Do you remember?

Do you remember how your head swung around when you first began to recognize words outside of a book?

A kindergarten teacher reminded me children beginning school actually can read sort-of by their ability to decode.

Most children recognize key words like “McDonalds,” “oreo,” “Burger King,” and so forth. It’s not necessarily the words they recognize, but brand recognition.

They can differentiate, for example, between oreos and fig newtons by what the packaging looks like.

Can you remember, however, when you couldn’t read anything–when you were illiterate?

The impetus to read

read

The best book for a two year-old–not to mention a dog!

I taught myself to read at four, using a Dr. Seuss book, by asking my harried mother, “does the letter a also mean the word a?”

Desperate to be entertained by a story, I wanted to decode the words.

The younger girl above can quote her favorite books, explaining she, too, knows how to read.

“She’s just memorized it,” the seven year-old said.

And why not? I, personally, have read Go Dog, Go out loud to her countless times!

Being able to read gave me the freedom to no longer rely on my mother to discover new stories.

A foreign language reminder

I read avidly throughout my childhood until one summer day in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Twenty years old, I traveled with Swiss relatives on a German tour. They all spoke four languages, so this was not an issue for them.

I spoke English, some Spanish and a smattering of Italian.

The tour guide did the best she could, she had me sit beside her to mutter quickly in my tongue.

Otherwise I was on my own and staring at the dark city, couldn’t read a thing.

I hadn’t been in that situation in 16 years. I didn’t like it.

Six years before I’d traveled in Europe not knowing what anyone said, but as German and French words looked familiar enough, I managed.

read

I have no idea what this says, even now!

The Czech language incorporated symbols I didn’t know.

I was lost. The signs didn’t help except for the handful I recognized by brand: Coca-Cola, for example.

I felt cut off from everything, vulnerable with my inability to communicate or read.

Have you ever considered what it would be like for someone who can’t read?

If you can read, the world is open to you

My teacher mother always challenged me: “If you can read, you can do anything.”

I haven’t found that to be exactly true, but being able to read may be the most important, and satisfying, skill I ever learned.

Knowledge is power. I learn best through reading–which can also chase away fear.

Protestants of the Reformation agreed with my mother.

That’s why Gutenberg’s press was so important–to provide the material average people could read to better understand their God.

The first published book was the Bible.

From that book came knowledge, freedom from fear, and an awareness of not only the world, but of God.

That, in my opinion, is why being able to read brings power.

Just ask my Adorable new reader.

Tweetables

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